Sam Shamoun’s “infinetly Better” Leprosy
Sam Shamoun’s hatred for Islam leads him to a leprosy stricken heart
After reading one of Shamoun’s latest critique, we were convinced that Shamoun hasn’t got anything substantial to write against Islam and thus, in his desperation, he often comes up “articles” which are either outright humorous and/or ill-thought of. The latest one under question is his article where in he has biasedly compared the characters of Mohammad (peace be upon him) and Jesus (peace be upon him) around the ailment of leprosy.
Shamoun quoted a few hadith where the Prophet (peace be upon him) reportedly said, “one should run away from the leper as one runs away from a lion ” and “I seek refuge in Thee from leprosy ”. And since New Testament has recorded a handful of incidents where Jesus (peace be upon him) reportedly cured lepers, Shamoun concluded that, “Contrast this with Jesus Christ who, not only came into contact with lepers, but also inherently possessed the divine ability to miraculously and instantaneously heal them” and “Here is a case where Jesus actually touched a leper and healed them”.
It is not diffcult to realize where Shamoun is moving. He wants us to realize that where on one hand Prophet (peace be upon him) adviced his followers to run away from a leper, Jesus (peace be upon him) “Jesus actually touched a leper and healed them”! Thus somehow proving to Shamoun that “Jesus is infinitely Better And Greater than Muhammad”! But does this really prove anything that Jesus (peace be upon him) is any better or “greater” than Prophet (peace be upon him) just because he cured a few lepers here and there. We would be analyzing it in this article.
To understand the words and deeds of both the prophets (peace be upon them) we need to understand the capacity in which both the Qur’an and New Testament present the subject proponents.
Unlike most of New Testament which is centered around the life and deeds of Jesus (peace be upon him), sometimes emphasizing, on other occassions extra-emphasizing and extra embellishing and on other occassions outright concocting words and deeds imputed to Jesus (peace be upon him), Qur’an is not a book about and around Mohammad (peace be upon him). And so you would not find Islamic text/s trumpeting miracles of Prophet (peace be upon him) as does New Testament; Qur’an is a book about The Ever-Living, not about a mortal nailed on cross!
Furthermore, since New Testament is a human handy work, Jesus (peace be upon him) authors had no restrictions at all to project him principally as a miracle working, first century, Palestinian! No wonder he roams around areas in Palestine and almost everywhere he is shown as performing miracles. Qur’an and its depiction of Mohammad (peace be upon him) is different: it does not show him to be a miracle working wizard! On the contrary, Qur’an states that Prophet (peace be upon him) was not even a guardian over his community, let alone any miracle worker!:
“Therefore do thou give admonition, for thou art one to admonish. Thou art not one to manage (men’s) affairs. But if any turn away and reject Allah,- Allah will punish him with a mighty Punishment, For to Us will be their return; Then it will be for Us to call them to account.” (Qur’an 88:20-26)
“…We made thee not one to watch over their doings, nor art thou set over them to dispose of their affairs.” (Qur’an 6:107)
“…I am not (set) over you to arrange your affairs.” (Quran 10:108)
These Qur’anic verses clearly set the tone that the Prophet (peace be upon him) need not perform leprosy cures to prove his bona fide or his “Better and Greater” status than anybody else for that matter.
Having said this, unlike Shamoun and other Islamophobes, we are absolutely at peace with the fact that Jesus (peace be upon him) healed lepers and other sufferers. Nevertheless, that does not imply that the Prophet (peace be upon him) never healed any ailment. Consider the following instances of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) miraculous healings:
“I was beside Allah’s Prophet in the battle of Uhd…In the course of this, Qatada bin an-Nu’man [one of the Companions] was hit by an arror, and one of his eyeballs poked out. God’s Prophet, with his auspicious blessed hand, placed the eyeball back in its socket. The eye healed at once, as if nothing had happened to it, and became even better than the other one.
Reported in Bukhari (810-870) and Muslim (817-875), two authentic hadith compilations named after their compilers, it is stated that Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, had appointed his cousin, Ali ibn Abi Talib, as the flag-holder at the Battle of Khaybar; however, Ali had been suffering severely from a painful eye condition. The Prophet applied his healing saliva to his [Ali’s] eyes, and at that moment, the pain ceased and his eyesight became much better.” (Source)
Abdullah ibn Ateek broke his leg and Muhammad healed it by wiping his hand over it. Abdullah said it was as if nothing had happened to it! The person who witnessed the miracle was another companion, Bara’ ibn Azib (Saheeh Al-Bukhari) (Source)
Prophet (peace be upon him) and Leprosy
If Prophet (peace be upon him) did miraculously heal sufferers then what was the import of his statements with regards to leprosy as quoted by Shamoun! Here they are reproduced once again:
“one should run away from the leper as one runs away from a lion ”
“I seek refuge in Thee from leprosy ”
It is important to understand the context of the statments. We are talking about first century Islamic era when leprosy was still an incurable, contagious and deadly disease. And therefore, the first of Prophet’s (peace be upon him) statement is nothing more than a pragmatic expression for the act of quarantining the leper. When you know that medically there isn’t a solution available at the time to cure leprosy then you would but naturally and practically advice your near ones to shun interaction with the infected person especially when the ailment is contagious; in other words –, “run away from the leper”. And so we see that the stress of the prophetic statement is more on educating masses for quarantining leprosy for the sake of saving others than outcasting leper or expressing the inability or unwillingness to miraculously cure one! This is further elucidated when the subject prophetic narratives are read in conjunction with other similar Hadith narrations (which Shamoun would dare not do to in insincerity!):
“A healthy man should not be brought near a sick person” [Abu Dawud, Ahmad, Ibn majah, Ahmad and Al-Bayhaqi] (Source)
Now if Shamoun construes the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) basic, practical and medically acclaimed act of shunning/quarantining contagious diseases as him being “fallible human being since, like the rest, he had no authority to heal lepers.” then he is only exposing his desparation to somehow attack the personality of Prophet (peace be upon him) without taking into account the situation and sense in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) uttered those words.
And as far as Prophet (peace be upon him) seeking refuge in Allah (SWT) from leprosy is considered and Shamoun’s conclusion that “…Nor did he have the ability protect himself from contracting this infectious skin disease” then Shamoun is yet to understand that it in Islamic belief no inidivual, no matter who s/he is, does not possess any authority against anything/anybody except that which is granted by Allah(SWT). And thus, the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) seeking refuge in Allah (SWT) from leprosy further establishes the Islamic monotheism and a fact that in Islam only Allah (SWT) is worthy of worship and has authority over leprosy; not even the Prophet (peace be upon him).
But we can understand why Shamoun faces hard time understanding these basic constructs; it is because he hails from the cultic background that narrates him all sorts of whimsical folk lores and mere legends wherein the handkerchiefs and togs of Paul and apparitions of Peter cure people, seemingly surpassing the feats accomplished by their master – Jesus (peace be upon him):
God was performing unusual miracles through Paul. Even handkerchiefs and aprons he had used were taken to the sick, and their diseases were driven away, and the evil spirits would go out of them. (Acts 19:11-12)
As a result of what the apostles were doing, sick people were carried out into the streets and placed on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he 3passed by. (Acts 5:15)
The fables of wonder-working bits of Paul and the legends of miraculous spooks of Peter obviously sets high and whimsical expectation in Shamoun and, consequently, whenever he would juxtapose these with the sincere admittance of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that he seeks refuge in Allah (SWT) from the dreaded ailment of Leprosy, Shamoun would always incorrectly and hastily come to conclusion that “More evidence that Jesus is infinitely Better And Greater than Muhammad”
All emphasize, wherever not matching with original, is ours.
Unless otherwise mentioned, all Qur’an text taken from Yusuf Ali translation.
Unless otherwise mentioned, all biblical text taken from Good News Translation.